Many recent issues with regards to advocacy are termed with the labels of “abled” or “disabled”. This really strikes me as very odd, particularly given that so many have rebuked being “labeled” in the past so readily label others.
“Nothing About Us, Without Us” and “Did you even ask disabled people who would be affected” are two of the most common statements from disabled self-advocates.
I have also found that one is labeled “abled” with no regard to disability – but it tends to mean a person who does not agree with the “disabled” viewpoint. From those who self-identify as “disabled” (which from my observation has no bearing on if the person is disabled or not – I know some people with significant disabilities who would never self-identify as “disabled” because they are who they are) I have witnessed extreme judgements and strong biased opinions written that are based solely on fiction. No facts or evidence are produced to support those judgements but they are sold to others as the truth.
Also, disabled activists may be very “abled” in comparison to others who are disabled – do these “abled” disabled activists speak for every disabled person? In my opinion, they do not and have no interest in learning about the needs and choices of those “more disabled” then they are. How does one even measure disability when it is so varied from one environment to another?
The disadain, hate speech, extreme judgements of disabled activists against anyone they define as “abled” (again this has no bearing if the “abled” person has a disability or not since it is in the eye of the activist) borders on pathology – delusions and fabrications of actions they believe “abled” people have done – is something that needs to be addressed and called out.
Using the “disabled card” to get away with abusing others is not okay. It only builds walls and barriers to collaboration. One such disabled activist in Seattle swears at, calls people “sociopaths” and makes up abuse by other disabled advocates if one has a difference of opinion. People say “he’s disabled” as if that excuses this behavior.
These are just some of the reasons that I just have to laugh at the “Breaking Barriers” award given out by Disability Rights Washington – an annual award given in several categories. The advocate award is given to someone with a disability for breaking barriers to advance the rights of and to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
Obviously, my definition of justice and ‘breaking barriers” are very different than DRW’s definition. They chose Shaun Bickley, the co-chair of the Seattle Disability Commission and the Secretary of Self-Advocates in Leadership (SAIL). I totally agree that this person is very committed to his activist role but I also question his ability to build bridges and work collaboratively with others who may not totally agree with his opinion and deceit.
In addition, the issue of the elimination of special certificates which allowed people with disabilities to be able to be employed at less than the minimum wage has proven to be harmful to those involved – Mr Bickley is receiving this award for his successful campaign to ban these certificates. This is discrimination against those with disabilities and prevents them from having jobs as learners, apprentices or messengers.